Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Shane Says Hello 5.5

We left Devin at the Omega institute in New York in the hands of good friends. We were sad to lose him but glad that he received such a warm welcome by the staff Devin will be working with for the rest of the summer. I cannot mimic Devin's storytelling style, so I will not try. But I hope to capture some of those same moments that have made impressions on us and that highlight the excitement of the trip.

Monday, Bruce and I went to Boston. Bruce took the opportunity to visit M.I.T., where he was graduate student “long long ago.” We discovered that it is very difficult to navigate Boston in a bus with Google maps. Bruce knew there were many low bridges in the area and a large number of parkways that are “cars only.” The extensive tunnels that move an amazing number of people in and out of Boston every day do no allow the GPS. System to know where you are. Google maps decided to reset the map to middle of Massachusetts when we were underground. The streets are so tightly packed that it is easy for the GPS to confuse which street we were on with an adjacent street and told us to make impossible turns. Google maps firmly believed we could make u-turns at will, and the bus had a turning radius of a compact car. This was far more apparent on our way out of town when Google maps did all of these things in quick succession, always rerouting us to roads that were cars only. Fortunately Bruce's thirty-year-old memory of Boston's roads prevailed.

Between our ingress and egress to and from the city of Boston, we had the most amazing weather. We also found out that it is easy to park a bus in Boston at least if you know about the autopark. The Museum of Science doesn't allow buses to park on site, but they do have directions for where to find bus parking. This information was not easily found anywhere else in my search of the internet, so I thank the content manager of the Museum of Science web-page. Having parked the bus a stone's throw from Bunker Hill, we rode our bikes right past ignoring its tourist appeal. Likewise the U.S.S. Constitution was just around the corner, but we pedaled our way over to M.I.T. Bruce grew nostalgic as we wandered the halls, and stories poured forth both while cycling and walking around the campus. One story that made the already ebullient Professor Bayly light up was the one about a prank measuring the Massachusetts Ave Bridge over the Charles River in Smoots (The length of Oliver Smoot who was supposedly to inebriated to notice his fraternity brothers moving him along the bridge and marking off his lengths in chalk) where it was 364.4 Smoots plus or minus an ear, which was part of the great lore of M.I.T. pranks that he learned of on his first week on campus.  

We found our way to the food trucks outside the medical center where many years ago Bruce said there was one falafel truck and “it wasn't very good, but it was close and it was the only one.”  We had a chickpea fritter sandwich (Yes I think that is falafel, but they called it a chickpea fritter sandwich) and rosemary fries from Clover. The food was great in scale and flavor. One sandwich easily fed us both.

There are many stories to tell, but it has grown late, and another day will soon be upon us. I must say thanks to: our host at M.I.T, Bruce's former student Martin Bazant who allowed us to sit in on a lecture on ion particle dynamics in an quasi-neutral medium, and Anne Tisdale-Ashford and Jonathan Ashford who opened their home to us, plied us with food and drink, told wonderful stories and introduced us to new friends and future scientists. Tomorrow the physics factory rides again with an event at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA.


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